backward

EnglishEdit

EtymologyEdit

From Middle English bakwarde, abakward, equivalent to back (adverb) +‎ -ward.

PronunciationEdit

AdjectiveEdit

backward (comparative more backward, superlative most backward)

  1. Situated toward or at the rear of something.
    The silt collects in the backward part of the tank.
  2. Acting or moving in the direction opposite to that in which someone or something is facing.
    a backward tilt of the head
  3. Acting or moving in the direction opposite to the usual direction of movement.
    The occasional apparent backward movement of planets is evidence that they revolve around the sun.
    Engage the lock to prevent backward rotation of the wheel.
    Synonym: retrograde
  4. (figuratively) Acting or moving oppositely to the desired direction of progress.
    This is a backward step for the country.
  5. Reversed in order or sequence.
    This backward writing is hard to read.
  6. Reluctant or unable to advance or act.
    She certainly isn't backward in coming forward!
    • 1882, Charles Edward Page, How to feed the baby to make it healthy and happy, page 133:
      The effect is to retard their progress—giving them too little opportunity and too little incentive for copying the language of adults— and a little later the child is pained and the parents' ears tingle at hearing a chance remark: “ How terribly backward she is about talking."
    • 1910, Leonard Keene Hirshberg, What You Ought to Know about Your Baby, page 19:
      The fact that a child is backward in talking is no sign of defective intelligence, nor does it prove that it will be a slow pupil.
    • 1919, Maugham, W[illiam] Somerset, “chapter 51”, in The Moon and Sixpence:
      Then her eyes, always alert for the affairs of her kitchen, fell on some action of the Chinese cook which aroused her violent disapproval. She turned on him with a torrent of abuse. The Chink was not backward to defend himself, and a very lively quarrel ensued.
    • 1925, Louis Fischer, The Health-care of the Baby: A Handbook for Mothers and Nurses, page 170:
      Rickety children are backward in teething, and when the teeth do appear, they decay very rapidly. The children are backward in walking and backward in talking and the soft-spot (fontanel) on the top of the head remains open months longer than it should.
    • 2003 August, “Media Prospecting”, in Mortgage Magazine[1]:
      Don't be backward in suggesting story ideas to local media but always think of the wants, needs and desires of their readers when selling-in story ideas.
  7. (may be offensive) Of a culture, country, practice etc., undeveloped or unsophisticated.
    They were a backward people without any writing.
    • 2006, Donnelly, Tom, “Back to Mogadishu?”, in Armed Forces Journal[2]:
      Most cruelly, the immediate security interests of the United States and the states surrounding Somalia are now to keep it a failed state, to prevent Islamists from consolidating even a weak state centered on Mogadishu. The leader of the victorious faction, one Aden Hashi 'Ayro, is said to be a veteran of Afghanistan; he knows well what a small sanctuary in a backward corner of the globe can mean for al Qaeda.
  8. (may be offensive) Slow to apprehend; having difficulties in learning.
    a backward child
  9. Lacking progressive or enlightened thought; outdated.
    The party's ideas and policies are very backward.
    Synonyms: antediluvian, antiquated, backwards, parachronistic, retrograde; see also Thesaurus:obsolete
    Antonym: progressive
  10. Late or behindhand.
    a backward season
    • 1848, Gaskell, Elizabeth, Mary Barton:
      " [] I've a job of work to finish tonight; mourning, as must be in time for the funeral to-morrow; and grandfather has been out moss- hunting, and will not be home till late."
      "Oh, how charming it will be! I'll help you if you're backward. Have you much to do?"
    • 1855, The zoologist: a popular miscellany of natural history, Volume 14[3]:
      We have had a long run of heavy, wet and squally weather; the dry season is two months backward, and the Lepidoptera have not appeared so abundantly as they should have done.
    • 1925, Louis Fischer, The Health-care of the Baby: A Handbook for Mothers and Nurses, page 170:
      Rickety children are backward in teething, and when the teeth do appear, they decay very rapidly.
    Synonyms: overdue, tardy; see also Thesaurus:overdue
  11. (chess) Of a pawn, further behind than pawns of the same colour on adjacent files and unable to be moved forward safely.
  12. (cricket) On that part of the field behind the batsman's popping crease.
  13. (cricket) Further behind the batsman's popping crease than something else.
  14. (obsolete) Unwilling; averse; reluctant.
    • 1713, Pope, Alexander, Windsor Forest, line 50:
      For wiser brutes were backward to be slaves.
  15. (obsolete) Already past or gone; bygone.
    Synonyms: forepast, historical; see also Thesaurus:past

Usage notesEdit

Backwards is possible as a synonym for most senses, both adjectival and adverbial.

  • Strictly speaking, in British English backward is an adjective and backwards is an adverb:
    It was a backward move vs He moved backwards
In American English, the rule may be reversed, and in written American English, backward is more common for the adverb. This follows the same usage for similar words ending in -ward/-wards and -way/-ways. See also -wise.
  • Only the -ward forms are commonly used in combination with an adjective, e.g.:
    A backward-facing statue.
SynonymsEdit

Derived termsEdit

SynonymsEdit

TranslationsEdit

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

AdverbEdit

backward (comparative more backward, superlative most backward)

  1. At, near or towards the rear of something.
    The passenger turned around and walked backward, towards the tail of the aircraft.
  2. In a direction opposite to that in which someone or something is facing or normally pointing.
    He tilted his head backward.
    The grandfather clock toppled backward and crashed to the ground.
    Her arm was bent backward at an odd angle.
  3. In a direction opposite to the usual direction of movement.
    In reverse gear the wheel turns backward.
  4. (figuratively) Oppositely to the desired direction of progress, or from a better to a worse state.
    This project seems to be going backward.
    • 1700, John Dryden, Theodore and Honoria
      The work went backward.
  5. In a reversed orientation; back to front.
    He had his cap on backward.
  6. In a reversed order or sequence.
    A palindrome reads the same backward as forward.
  7. Toward or into the past;
    As we begin the new millennium, it behoves us to look backward as well as forward.
  8. (obsolete) In the past.
  9. By way of reflection; reflexively. (Can we add an example for this sense?)
    • 1599, John Davies, Nosce Teipsum
      the Mind can backward caſt
      Upon herself, her understanding Light
    • 1862, George Eliot, Romola[4]:
      It was still possible — perhaps it might be inevitable — for him to accept frankly the altered conditions, and avow Baldassarre's existence; but hardly without casting an unpleasant light backward on his original reticence []
Usage notesEdit

See notes under adjective sense.

AntonymsEdit

TranslationsEdit

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

NounEdit

backward

  1. The state behind or past.

TranslationsEdit

Related termsEdit

ReferencesEdit

  • backward at OneLook Dictionary Search
  • backward in The Century Dictionary, New York, N.Y.: The Century Co., 1911.

AnagramsEdit